New Study Suggests Stem Cell Proliferation is Controlled by the Nervous System
Adult stem cells, also known as Somatic stem cells, are workhorses that build and regenerate broken or damaged tissue.
A major example of this is the stem cell. People who receive a blast of chemotherapy and radiation therapies will kill their bone marrow in the process. They are then transplanted with the stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow (or from a donor) and it will regenerate the lost cells that were killed during the procedure.
The problem with adult stem cells is that it doesn’t share the same characteristic to that of the embryonic stem cells. I am talking about the latter’s ability to proliferate at a level that is required by the body to initiate the repair and healing process.
However, a new study suggests that somatic stem cell proliferation is actually affected by our Autonomous Nervous System or ANS. The study’s findings gave an interesting notion that the ANS may directly or indirectly affect the division of adult stem cells in our bodies.
Autonomic Nervous System
There are two major nervous systems in our bodies: The Central Nervous System which is in charge of the control of the different organs and parts of our body and the Autonomic Nervous system is largely responsible for the finer functions of our organs such as the respiratory system, the digestive system, among others.
It has been said that the autonomous nervous system links the brain to the different organs in our bodies and in each connection, there are neurons that are ready to act whenever we need to do certain movements and bodily functions.
Although it controls deliberate movement, it also controls our automatic movements as well. Examples of this are our breathing, digestion, and blood flow.
Whenever our system is required to move, the neurons that are present in our bodies give off chemicals known as the Neurotransmitters. According to the study, these neurotransmitters might have a direct or indirect connection to certain cells in the body, this, including the somatic stem cells.
Neurotransmitters’ Potential for Stem Cell Proliferation
The study was spearheaded by Dr. Elizabeth Davis and co-authored by Dr. Megan Dailey. According to Davis in their previously published study, they’ve hypothesized that some neurotransmitters might be responsible for the proliferation of the stem cells in the body.
Two of the neurotransmitters that they’ve used were the Norepinephrine and the Acetylcholine.
For those of you who do not know, the Norepinephrine is responsible for the fight or flight response and the Acetylcholine is mainly responsible for the rest and digest mechanisms in our body.
What they did was they’ve focused their attention on the intestinal lining of mice and they found out that the neurotransmitters, albeit not directly related to cell proliferation, might have indirectly triggered the mechanism that produced more stem cells in that region of the mice’s body. They’ve then postulated that it was indeed the neurotransmitters that did this possibly with the help of other factors.
This presents an exciting dynamic since scientists can follow their research and focus more on the neurotransmitters and their link to stem cell proliferation.
If this puzzle is solved, we might have the opportunity to use stem cells without the ethical implications of using embryonic stem cells for research and testing.